September 2009

Photo by David Carmichael

On to my first experience on the Junior Grand Prix circuit at Lake Placid in September. Growing up in Vermont, I had trained across the lake (Champlain) at Lake Placid every summer, so I felt super-comfortable. From the welcoming rink manager to the zamboni drivers I still recognized, it was like coming home. I had two roommates from Team USA at the OTC (Alex Shibutani and Brett Dunie-Neustatt), which was a lot of fun. Between us, we had so many electrical appliances we had to buy a power strip!

Although I wasn’t thrilled with either one of my skates in Lake Placid, I did have good results, earning the gold medal. Everyone kidded me about my "Ross" move stepping on to the podium – my signature trip. Luckily, I avoided a face plant and made it to the top step. It was a thrill to hear our national anthem played. As the gold medalist, I had my first experience with drug testing (I didn't get what all the fuss was about! It only took me like fifteen minutes from start to finish.)

I also made new friends from the other countries – Kento Nakamura from Japan and Mark Shakmatov from Russia. Kento qualified for the final and I am looking forward to seeing him at the JGP Final in Tokyo next month. It has been one of the things I have enjoyed the most about the JGP series – the chance to get to know skaters from other countries as well as my own.

Another special part of this experience for me was to have a chance to interact with fans. One very special fan, Ronie Reiley from California, and her daughter found out I would be at this event and actually came just to cheer for me. “Aunt” Ronie has been a fan of mine since my early days at the Cranberry Open, and it meant a lot to me that she would come to watch me.